As expected, the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Germany have rejected the Iraqi demand, with the US threatening to instantly collapse the Iraqi economy by a banking freeze if Iraq insists on US Alliance withdrawal from its territory.
The blatantly criminal assassinations were followed by international outrage and massive demonstrations by Iraqis and Iranians. The Iranians launched missile attacks on 2 American air bases in Iraq that were carefully designed as a retaliatory “slap on the face”.
However, the Iraqi Parliament passed the following resolution (5 January 2020): “The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory. The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason”.
And now, with Iraq threatening to “kick out” the US military and the Trump administration refusing to leave the country, is Iraq turning out to be a US occupied territory?
It doesn’t take a strategic mind to realise that this is a blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
Having foreign forces within a country’s international border against the wishes of the host government and without a treaty commitment allowing them to be there is in effect a foreign military occupation and gives the Iraqis the legal right to use military force against them.
Since the US invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration in 2003, there have been more than 200,000 civilians who have been killed or injured - an invasion described as Washington’s greatest foreign policy disaster since Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has threatened to impose sanctions on Iraq if it continues to demand US withdrawal from the country.
The US argues that its military presence in Iraq is to help Iraqis fight ISIL designated a “terrorist group” by the US State Department. Then again, history shows that respect for Iraqi sovereignty has never figured into the US government’s calculations. Rhetoric has sometimes sounded nice, but the actual policy has revolved around the precept of “might makes right“.
What’s happening now is consistent with that policy. The latest dynamics involve an approach to geopolitics that reflects a belief in Washington that the United States has the right to work its will on the world as much as feasible. Trump’s refusal to consider a withdrawal is not surprising, however.
Republicans, along with some leading Democrats and prominent media pundits, insist that President Obama should have kept US troops in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline by which President Bush and the Iraqi government had agreed to complete the withdrawal. This would have also been illegal. Obama was roundly criticized for his insistence on living up to the agreement and international law.
It will be interesting to see how the US Congress and the media react to Trump’s defiance. On the other hand, what the United Nations can do about such matters is contingent on the extent to which the UN can extricate itself from US veto power and intimidation of governments with political, military and economic blackmail. So far, the UN has never been able to escape the US influence and veto power.
There is little that’s coherent about US policies beyond flagrant self-interest for its extreme arrogance and military-industrial complex. The status of US forces in Iraq is under a Status of Forces Agreement, which is negotiated bilaterally between Iraq and the United States, and those discussions should take place between the United States and Iraq.
Now that the Iraqi Parliament and the government have decided to expel US forces from their country, they should do just that. The US and its allies have no intention to leave Iraq. The UN has no power to say otherwise. It is now up to the Iraqi government officials to make history and ensure that their country will never become a US-occupied territory or else the power of action will be vested on the Iraqi people.